Fred Ubelacker's Amateur Photographs Created Using Glass Negatives Stratford-perth Archives

After fifty years of operation, Stratford-Perth Archives houses an ever-growing collection of material that is carefully preserved and made accessible for researchers from not only Perth County, but around the world. One of the ways that we are celebrating the Archives’ golden anniversary is by highlighting fifty “treasures” from the collection in our weekly local history articles throughout 2022. The treasure for week 3 is the Ubelacker Glass Plate Photo Negative Collection.

Frederick Ublelacker, born in 1869 in Stratford, was an avid photographer and the founder of the Stratford Camera Club in 1900. Fred’s collection of negatives was donated to the Archives by his grandson in 1975 and is a rare early record of candid shots of daily life. The young girl in the image accompanying this article is unidentified, but it may be Fred’s daughter Shirley. She is enjoying some time outside with her doll, cat and bird. The original glass plate is shown with the print.

In 2006, the Archives in conjunction with Gallery Stratford and photographer Terry Manzo; who printed the black and white photos from the 300-plus original glass plate negatives, showcased the images in an exhibit held at the Gallery entitled The Archives Project: The Photographs of Fred Ubelacker. These photographs depicted a wonderful playful quality of not just the photographer but his subjects. Some of the photos shown were children tobogganing, a small child in a buggy pulled by a dog and the family’s pet monkey and chickens too. Fred liked to do trick or experimental photography. He would expose two or three images of the same person in one photograph.

The Ubelacker family was a well known and respected family that had lived in Stratford since 1855. The family originally came from Saxony in Germany. Christian, a butcher, and his wife Johanna came to Canada c. 1847 with their family. Their three children: Henry (1838), Frederick (1844-1863) and Pauline (1848-1869), were born in Saxony; they also had another son Hermann (1852- ?) born in Canada. When they arrived in Canada, they settled in the surrounding area of Seebach’s Hill. In 1855, Christian moved the family to Stratford and established a meat business with his partner George Larkworthy. This was the beginning of four generations owning this business.

Christian’s son Henry joined his father in business, and when Christian passed away in 1864, Henry took over the business. In 1888, Henry purchased the property at the corner of Market Place and Wellington Street; where Cora Corture is today. It was here that a new building for the meat market was built. If you look today, you can still see the business’s sign on the side of the building.

Henry married Jane Glendinning in 1865 in Streetsville, Ontario, where she was originally from. They had three children, all born in Stratford. A son and two daughters: Ada Marie (1868-1923), Frederick (1869-1943) and Lillian May (1873-1937). Besides being in the meat business, Henry also served as the fire chief of the volunteer fire brigade in the early years of Stratford. He was also a city councilor and a high school board trustee. Henry passed away in 1926.

In 1909, Henry’s son, Fred took over the business, after being a partner for eighteen years. This making him the third generation of Ubelackers in the business. Fred married Mary Alice McBrine in Stratford on September 15, 1891. They had five children: Harry (1892-1979), Gordon (1895-1963), Lorne (1897-?), Eldon (1899-1969) and Shirley (1904-1987). Besides being an avid photographer, he was also a member of Avon Lodge I.O.O.F for 35 years. Fred passed away on September 3, 1943.

Fred’s two sons Gordon and Eldon continued with the business until 1954. At that time, they sold the business name, abattoir and equipment to Gerhard Weidman. This was the first time in 100 years that an Ubelacker was not at the helm of the meat business. Source: Stratford-Perth Archives